Does Vape Juice Expire?
Should you be worried about vape juice going bad? If you’ve been vaping for a long time, you might have a collection of out-of-favor e-liquids gathering dust on your shelf.
Sure, you plan on vaping them eventually, but could you be against the clock to get them finished?
It turns out that the expiration date on your vape juice might not be as important as you think.
Vape juice expiration date
Most e-liquids will have an expiration date printed somewhere on the bottle. Like food products, it will have a date printed along with a tag like ‘expired by’, ‘use by’ or ‘best before’.
What’s interesting is that there is no federal law that requires these dates.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that “this information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer”.
They do, however, state that consumables must be “wholesome and fit for consumption”.
In other words, if a product is dangerous to consumers it is subject to action from the FDA regardless of the date printed on the label.
Companies voluntarily add expiration dates to their packaging and they usually do so in accordance with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) guidelines.
The FSIS says that these dates are an indicator of a product’s quality, rather than it’s safety.
Milk, eggs and meat that are past their ‘expiration’ or ‘best before’ dates may still be safe for human consumption. But they are probably going to low quality compared to products that are well inside their expiration date.
E-liquid expiration dates differ slightly from fresh food dates, because e-liquid is shelf-stable. Essentially this means that the product is less likely to react with its environment and so is longer lasting.
Under FSIS guidelines, shelf stable products should print a month and a year. So your bottle of vape juice might expire in October 2019, while a carton of eggs will expire on 07/09/18.
How long before e-liquid goes bad?
E-liquid is shelf stable, so it takes a long time to go bad. Shelf life will vary from e-liquid to e-liquid. It will also vary according to how long it is stored.
But as a rule of thumb, you can expect your vape juice to last between one and two years if it is stored correctly.
The expiration date is an estimate of how long the vape juice will last under normal conditions, but the quality of your e-liquid is likely to diminish over time.
So even if e-liquid is just inside its expiration date, it will probably not be as good as the day you bought it.
Shelf life is based primarily on the lifespan of the component parts of the e-liquid.
- The quality of e-liquid decreases over time
- Nicotine potency will diminish
- Texture and ‘mouth-feel’ may also feel different
- Flavor may fade more quickly
- This does not necessarily mean that old e-liquid is unsafe
Nicotine, propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), the three most common ingredients in e-liquid, typically have a shelf life of about two years.
If exposed to direct sunlight or extreme heat, these components can react and break down more quickly.
For example, if nicotine is exposed to too much heat it will oxidize faster, which can affect your vape experience.
Flavorings are the other main component in most e-liquids. The shelf life of flavorings can vary quite significantly and have a big impact on the quality of your e-liquid.
If an e-liquid uses natural compounds to create flavor, then the juice will spoil more quickly. If an e-liquid uses more artificial flavors then it will probably last longer.
E-liquid shelf life can also be affected by the quality of the ingredients. Cheaper e-liquids are likely to spoil more quickly, but this should be pretty evident. The next section contains some tips for spotting bad e-liquid.
Is it safe to consume e-liquid after expiration date?
According to FSIS guidelines, best before, expiration and use by dates are determinants of quality rather than safety.
Because these dates are generally only estimates, some ‘expired’ e-liquids will still be safe to consume but the quality of the e-liquid may have diminished.
Just as you can sniff a bottle of milk, you can inspect e-liquid to see if it has gone bad.
Things to look out for
- E-liquid starts to separate or becomes solid
- E-liquid starts to gel together
- Offensive smell or taste
Look at the e-liquid and see if it has separated or looks unusual. In particular you want to look if the e-liquid has separated in anyway or if there are any solids in the juice.
Some minor color changes are to be expected with nicotine oxidization, but if the color has changed dramatically or the e-liquid looks less clear than usual then you might be wary.
You can also smell it. All e-liquid smells different, but if you get a particularly offensive smell from your e-liquid then it is safer to throw it out.
The taste of your e-liquid will change as it ages in the bottle. Some e-liquids will lose their flavor more quickly than others, but some vapers claim to prefer the taste of e-liquid as it gets older.
This could be because e-liquid can ‘steep’ inside the bottle. This often makes the e-liquid a bit darker and can bring out stronger flavors, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference.
If the e-liquid picks up a more offensive taste, particularly if it gets a distinct ‘peppery’ flavor, then you may want to throw the e-liquid away.
How to store e-liquid
E-liquid is best stored in its bottle in a cool, dark place. Putting it in direct sunlight or a warm environment can cause your e-liquid to go bad quicker.
There’s no need to keep e-liquid int he fridge, because this can affect the taste and consistency of your vape. Keeping the vape juice just below room temperature is ideal.
The plastic bottles that e-liquids come in are often not suitable for long term storage. If you want to store e-liquid for a long time, it is recommended that you transfer the e-liquid to an airtight, tinted glass bottle.
These kinds of glass vials are cheap to buy and they can make your e-liquid look great. Just make sure you label your e-liquid in the new bottle and make a note of the expiration date that was listed on the plastic bottle.